NEW YORK, December 18, 2020 (C-Fam) — Three women of the Trump administration gave an exclusive insider view of the battle for life in U.S. foreign policy during a panel organized by the Center for Family and Human Rights [publisher of the Friday Fax].
Valerie Huber, Special Representative for Global Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services described how hard it was to convince countries to support U.S. pro-life diplomacy.
“When I started this work, I initially thought that if countries had a pro-life constitution or legislation then they would naturally want to sign on to things like this. But I learnt very quickly that was not necessarily the case,” Huber said.
Huber explained that even countries with pro-life laws had become afraid to speak out on life issues because of the “aggressive and continuing intimidation and threats.”
Working under Secretary Alex Azar at HHS, Huber was the driving force behind the Geneva Consensus Declaration on Promoting Women’s Health and Strengthening the Family, a declaration by 34 countries that abortion is not an international right.
“In many countries, before they agreed to sign, this went all the way to their president… So that tells you how difficult this is,” she said, adding, “But it also shows that there is all out commitment on the part of these countries that did sign on.”
What helped, Huber said, was when countries realized the Trump administration was sincere in promoting life and not just playing politics. “They saw that the Trump administration was dependable on the issues and that we cared about their countries. That made a difference,” she said.
Dr. Alma Golden, Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Global Health decried the “neo-imperialism” of “those who demanded compliance with their expectations around abortion as a condition of funding.”
From the start, Golden said, Trump appointees ran into internal bureaucratic obstacles when they tried to monitor compliance with U.S. restrictions on abortion-related activities, including the Mexico City Policy, now called Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance. Previous Republican administrations had trusted that large and small grant recipients would simply comply with pro-life restrictions based on an “honor system.”
“Clearly that was problematic,” Golden emphasized.
Last month, Golden requested that all large recipients of U.S. foreign assistance report on their activities, including on all sub-recipients to which they in turn give U.S. taxpayer funds.
With an eye toward the future, Golden said, “We are preparing for the future and trying to document and maintain records around the advances and the barriers that we’ve addressed.”
Security expert Katie Gorka, the Director for Civil Society and the American Dialogue at the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin J. Feulner Institute, urged pro-lifers to get involved in the women, peace, and security agenda, a new international policy space that abortion groups have been able to seize.
Gorka served in the Trump administration as a senior advisor at the Department of Homeland Security. She helped develop a sanitized Trump administration’s Women, Peace and Security Strategy. But with a Biden administration on the horizon, her message to pro-lifers was stark.
“Unfortunately, women, peace and security can be anything you want it to be, so the (pro-life) guardrails are virtually nil legally,” Gorka said.
There are no pro-life guardrails in the federal law on women, peace, and security signed by President Trump in 2017. And a Biden administration is expected to violate even existing U.S. restrictions on abortion funding
Published with permission from C-Fam.